True Railroad Stories: The Peanut Man

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Hi Guys!

Some of you may remember that I previously posted a few of my Daddy’s tales from his 30-something year railroad career which spanned from the late 1960’s to the late 1990’s.

Naturally, he has a lot of amazing true stories to tell 🙂 

Just in case you’ve missed earlier posts, you can click on the links that I have included below. Trust me you will NOT be disappointed.

Today’s story is very inspiring and I am sure you’ll enjoy it!

Take it away Daddy!

LadyG 😘💋

 

Early on in my Railroad career, I worked as a flagman for a major railroad in the South.  At that time, I was assigned to a local freight train that operated daily between a large city and a smaller town in Georgia.

As the only black crew member in the late 1960’s, I was often exposed to racism–Many times to the point of depression.

However, the events in this story helped me to regain my faith and hope in mankind.

The person that I give most credit to restoring my faith was a white brakeman that I will call “Charlie.”

Although Charlie was not particularly fond of black people, we worked pretty well together.  He and I did most of the ground work when our train stopped in sidetracks to switch industries or pick or set-off railcars.

In one of the towns where we worked, we would often meet up with “The Peanut Man.”

The Peanut Man was an elderly black gentleman who rode around town on a three-wheel bike with a basket on the back filled with boiled and roasted peanuts.

Now, to the best of my recollection, The Peanut Man wore the exact same outfit every time we saw him–a worn and tattered black suit with a frayed white collared shirt.  A faded red bowtie, black fedora and horned rimmed glasses completed his ensemble.

Despite the ragged condition of his clothing, I often marveled at the way in which his deep dark complexion accentuated his smooth leathery skin.

Anyway, whenever Charlie and I stopped in The Peanut Man’s hometown, he’d start pedaling-feverishly- right toward us.  

Of course, we knew that he knew that we were his best customers.

 Why was that?  

Well, Charlie and I once asked The Peanut Man if he ever got tired of pedaling around town in order to sell his peanuts.  We wondered this because the town had several steep hills and, as I implied, he was well past his prime.

The Peanut man replied, “Yeah, but I need to make much money as I can.”

Though we didn’t say anything, Charlie and I both knew good and well that this man was too old to seek and find regular employment so selling peanuts was his only option for making a living.

With that in mind, whenever we saw him, we’d always buy as many bags as we could afford.

In fact, Charlie often bought much more than I did.

Here’s the amazing thing, I learned several years later that Charlie did not eat peanuts-nor did anyone else in his family.

From time to time I still wonder why he continued to buy all those peanuts.

Do you have any idea why?

-The Conductor

LOL!!!! Hey Da, I have my suspicions but I think I’ll leave it to my friends to try to hazard a guess in the comment section!

 

Other “True Railroad Stories” from Dad:

The Coal Toss

The Passengers

The Gathering of The Fireflies

 

 

Ron’s Time Tunnel: STORNADO!

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My Great Aunt Vulla was an interesting character. She was a midwife who’d assisted hundreds, maybe even thousands of babies; black, white, and so forth, into this world.  She assisted my mother in bringing me here. Aunt Vulla “midwifed” me into the world right there in Gramp’s house on a “miraculous” summer day in 1961. I’m told that when I came into the world, I didn’t cry. They wrapped me in a blanket and laid me in front of the fireplace. I lay there peacefully, growling instead of crying. I don’t remember when I first cried, but immediately succeeding my birth was not that time.

Gramp and Aunt Vulla used to get together at Gramps house from time-to-time.  Aunt Vulla would bring her quilting materials. She was a master maker of beautiful, heavy, warm quilts. Her “materials” consisted of needles, thread, thimble, and an immense bag full of cloth scraps of all shapes, sizes, textures, and colors.  I don’t think she ever passed by a swatch of cloth that she didn’t save to be used in one of her many and variably wonderful quilts. Over time, she had managed to accumulate a mountain of scraps that would one day become parts of exquisite quilts. Just like she put that rainbow colored, jigsaw puzzle of  cloth together into a beautiful quilt, she and Gramp would weave tales from their past; wonderful little anecdotes full of colorful characters, as varied and as interesting as the colors and shapes of the scraps which lay at Aunt Vulla’s feet.

In their telling, they introduced me to a word they often used when describing people of less than stellar mental acumen. That word was “Stornado”.  A “Stornado Fool” was a distinct and separate class of fool. A “Stornado fool” was a fool above and beyond any foolishness you might imagine. One of the sisters might say, “Child John is a straight fool.”, then the other would dovetail onto that statement with, “Honey, yes! A Stornado fool!” then they’d whoop with laughter.  Man, you could bet that fellow didn’t have sense enough to pour pee out of a boot if it had a sign on it that said “turn upside down” (this, by the way, was another of their sayings). I never knew the origins of “Stornado”. It seemed to be a combination of storm and tornado.

Another type of fool that Gramp used to mention a lot was the “Educated Fool”.    This type of fool was not quite as bad as a “Stornado”, but was a disgrace in his or her own right. She seemed to have a particular disdain for an “Educated Fool”. To her, it was especially shameful to waste such a prized and expensive gift on someone who was determined to remain a fool despite being educated; for you see, Gramp had been a teacher for some 30 plus years and knew intimately, the value of an education. She didn’t feel that such a valued gift should be taken lightly.

Thanks to Gramp and Aunt Vulla I learned that: not everyone thought to be a fool is a fool; I learned that some so-called intelligent people can also be fools; I learned that, by any means necessary, avoid “Stornado Fools”; and if I’m ever called a “Stornado Fool”, it is time to take a serious look in the mirror; a penny for your thoughts?

There are a couple of good stories about some “foolish” people that I heard while sitting at Gramp’s and Aunt Vulla’s feet. In honor of Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is today, and who once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt,”let me tell you about a boy named “Man” and a man named “Boy!” –Next week!